Deleting Facebook might make you happier but less informed

According to a US study, disconnecting from Facebook for a month would make people happier, less present online and thus more likely to spend time with friends and family.

Stress, depression, sleep disturbance or even the weakening of the immune system… Social network addiction can have a significant impact on mood and health. But can deleting your account make you happier? This is what researchers in Stanford and New York (USA) have tried to find out. For their study, entitled “The Welfare Effects of Social Media” which was reviewed in March, they asked 2,844 moderate users to stay off social media for one month.

Several times a day, participants’ profiles were checked to make sure they left their accounts disabled. Daily text messages were also sent to them to find out how they felt. At the end of the story, the respondents were found to be happier disconnected from Facebook. “Deactivation has resulted in minor but significant improvements in well-being, especially happiness, life satisfaction, depression and anxiety,” say the study’s authors.

This one-month break also freed up time for the participants: they had an average of one hour more per day. And rather than go to other sites and social networks, the participants were more likely to put aside their digital life. They spent more time watching television, socializing with friends and family, or exercising. However, they were “less able to correctly answer factual questions about recent events”. Social media remains an important source of information.

The last point of the research was to determine if the disconnection had a long-term impact on the use of Facebook by Internet users. Several weeks after the end of the study, those who deactivated the application used it 12 minutes daily less than the control group. 5% definitively turned their backs on it, and had not reactivated their account nine weeks after the end of the experiment. “It fits well with the economic models of dependency, which have established that reducing consumption for a period reduces the marginal utility of consumption in future periods,” the researchers conclude.

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Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.